Does your cat think the dangling stem of a Christmas cactus makes an excellent toy? Does he/she treat the plant like a buffet or a litter box? Read on to find out how to handle cats and Christmas cactus.
Christmas Cactus & Cat Safety
When your cat eats a Christmas cactus, your first concern should be the health of the cat. Is Christmas cactus bad for cats? The answer depends on how you grow your plants. According to the ASPCA plant database, Christmas cactus is not toxic or poisonous to cats, but insecticides and other chemicals used on the plant may be toxic. In addition, a sensitive cat eating Christmas cactus may suffer an allergic reaction. Carefully read the label of any chemicals you may have recently used on the plant. Look for cautions and warnings as well as information about how long the chemical remains on the plant. Contact your vet if you have any concerns. Cats love the feel of their paws in dirt, and once they discover this pleasure, it's hard to keep them from digging in your plants and using them as litter boxes. Try covering the potting soil with a layer of pebbles to make it hard for kitty to dig down to the soil. For some cats, cayenne pepper sprinkled liberally over the plant and the soil acts as a deterrent. Pet stores sell a number of commercial cat deterrents. One of the best ways to keep the cat out of a Christmas cactus is to plant it in a hanging basket. Hang the basket where the cat can't reach it, even with a well-executed and carefully planned jump.
Christmas Cactus Broken By Cat
When the cat breaks stems off of your Christmas cactus, you make new plants by rooting the stems. You'll need stems with three to five segments. Lay the stems aside in an area out of direct sunlight for a day or two to let the broken end callus over. Plant them an inch deep in pots filled with potting soil that drains freely, such as cactus potting soil. Christmas cactus cuttings root best when the humidity is very high. You can maximize the humidity by enclosing the pots in a plastic bag. Cuttings root in three to eight weeks. Cats and Christmas cactus can live in the same house. Even if your cat isn't showing any interest in your plant right now, he/she may take an interest later. Take steps now to prevent damage to the plant and harm to the cat.
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Jackie Carroll has written over 500 articles for Gardening Know How on a wide range of topics.
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